The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they are investigating an apparent increase in invasive group A strep infections, but the increase may indicate a return to typical pre-pandemic levels.
Like influenza and RSV, invasive group A streptococcal infections, known as iGAS infections, have been curbed by Covid-19 control measures such as masking and social distancing. But in a statement Friday, the CDC said it is now hearing from some doctors and state health departments about an increase in iGAS infections in children.
“It is too early to tell if the number of iGAS cases is just returning to pre-pandemic levels or if it is above what we would normally expect based on what we know about seasonal patterns of GAS,” said wrote CDC spokeswoman Kate Grusich in an email.
“Recent increases in respiratory viruses, particularly influenza, may also contribute to a possible increase in iGAS infections. Concurrent or previous viral infections such as influenza and skin conditions such as chickenpox can increase the risk of iGAS infections.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said Friday it is monitoring an increase in pediatric hospitalizations caused by group A strep. The rise follows a drop in cases during the pandemic.
“Cases of invasive group A strep have increased in all age groups, but are particularly apparent this fall in pediatric patients,” spokesperson Paul Galloway wrote in an email.
There have been 11 reported cases of invasive group A strep in children 10 months to 6 years old in the Denver metro area since Nov. 1, the department said. Two children died, but the official cause of death has not been determined, Galloway said.
This month, health officials in the UK advised parents and schools to monitor Strep A infections after several children died.
The World Health Organization said on Thursday that France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom had reported increases in GAS infections and scarlet fever, warning that children under 10 years are most at risk.
Group A strep can cause many types of infections, some relatively minor. Strep A, or group A strep, is a bacteria found in the throat and on the skin that usually causes fever and throat infections, such as strep throat or scarlet fever.
Rarer are invasive group A streptococcal infections, including necrotizing fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.
Necrotizing fasciitis is sometimes called flesh-eating disease. It’s a rare bacterial infection that spreads quickly and can be fatal, according to the CDC. Group A streptococcus is considered the most common cause.
Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, also known as STSS, occurs when bacteria spread to deep tissues and the bloodstream. “STSS can progress very quickly to low blood pressure, multiple organ failure, and even death,” the CDC states.
Strep A is not fatal for most people infected, and antibiotics are usually effective in treating them.
There is no vaccine to prevent Strep A infections, and the best way to protect yourself against the bacteria is to wash your hands frequently, according to the CDC.
“If someone becomes ill with a group A strep infection, prompt treatment is important because it can prevent serious illness and complications,” Lara Anton, spokeswoman for the Department of Health Services, said on Friday. Texas Health.
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